An asexual is someone who does not experience sexual attraction. Unlike celibacy, which people choose, asexuality is an intrinsic part of who we are. There is considerable diversity among the asexual community; each asexual person experiences things like relationships, attraction, and arousal somewhat differently. Asexuality does not make our lives any worse or any better, we just face a different set of challenges than most sexual people. Asexuality is distinct from celibacy or sexual abstinence, which are behaviours, while asexuality is generally considered to be a sexual orientation. Some asexuals do participate in sex, for a variety of reasons.
Most people on AVEN have been asexual for their entire lives. Just as people will rarely and unexpectedly go from being straight to gay, asexual people will rarely and unexpectedly become sexual or vice versa. Another small minority will think of themselves as asexual for a brief period of time while exploring and questioning their own sexuality.
There is no litmus test to determine if someone is asexual. Asexuality is like any other identity; at its core, it’s just a word that people use to help figure themselves out. If at any point someone finds the word asexual useful to describe themselves, we encourage them to use it for as long as it makes sense to do so.
Although asexuality shares a common set of values, it is expressed differently by each individual. Within the AVEN forum, asexual people use language to distinguish their varying opinions concerning sexual expression and romantic relationships. Here is a list of terms that asexual people use to define themselves:
Full article: relationships
Asexual people have the same emotional needs as anyone else, and like in the sexual community we vary widely in how we fulfill those needs. Some asexual people are happier on their own, others are happiest with a group of close friends. Other asexual people have a desire to form more intimate romantic relationships, and will date and seek long-term partnerships. Asexual people are just as likely to date sexual people as we are to date each other.
Sexual or nonsexual, all relationships are made up of the same basic things. Communication, closeness, fun, humor, excitement and trust all happen just as much in sexual relationships as in nonsexual ones. Unlike sexual people, asexual people are given few expectations about the way that our intimate relationships will work. Figuring out how to flirt, to be intimate, or to be monogamous in a nonsexual relationships can be challenging, but free of sexual expectations we can form relationships in ways that are grounded in our individual needs and desires.
Full article: attraction
Many asexual people experience attraction, but we feel no need to act out that attraction sexually. Instead we feel a desire to get to know someone, to get close to them in whatever way works best for us. Some asexuals describe our attraction as "romantic", "platonic", or "aesthetic" attraction, to differentiate them from sexual attraction. Asexual people who experience attraction will often be attracted to a particular gender, and may identify as gay, bi, pan, or straight, or as homoromantic, biromantic, panromantic or heteroromantic.
For some sexual arousal is a fairly regular occurrence, though it is not associated with a desire to find a sexual partner or partners. Some asexuals will occasionally masturbate, but feel no desire for partnered sexuality. Other asexual people experience little or no arousal. Asexual people generally do not see a lack of sexual arousal as a problem to be corrected, and focus their energy on enjoying other types of arousal and pleasure.
Note: People do not need sexual arousal to be healthy, but in a minority of cases a lack of arousal can be the symptom of a more serious medical condition. If you do not experience sexual arousal or if you suddenly lose interest in sex you should probably see a doctor just to be safe.
Full article: research relating to asexuality
Although researchers in human sexuality have known about asexuality since at least the late 1940s, little research has been done. Most of this has been recent and there is increasing interest in the subject.
Proposed Models and Definitions
Being such a new and unexplored concept, the definition and categorization of asexuality has been the subject of much debate, not least among asexuals themselves. It is often conceived of as one of four or more orientations (homosexual, heterosexual, bisexual/pansexual, asexual), but is also spoken of as one of two (sexual and asexual) with gender preference being measured along a different axis.
In addition, a number of other definitions and more complex models have been proposed:
History of the Definition